US House creates cybersecurity subcommittee

The U.S. House Homeland Security Committee has created a congressional subcommittee focused on cybersecurity, an action that prompted cheers from the technology industry.

On Tuesday, the Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Representative Christopher Cox, created the House Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Science and Research and four other subcommittees. A press release from Cox, a California Republican, said the subcommittee will focus on federal government cybersecurity policies, protecting the government and private technology system from domestic and foreign attacks, and preventing injuries to civilians and damage to infrastructure caused by cyberattacks.

The Homeland Security Committee will “ensure that protecting Americans is the number one priority of the Federal government,” Cox said in a statement.

Cox called on the U.S. Senate to create a similar homeland security committee, to oversee the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Senate Judiciary Committee has a subcommittee on technology, terrorism and government information.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and cybersecurity company Entrust Inc. both issued statements praising the House for establishing the cybersecurity subcommittee.

“The establishment of this pivotal subcommittee underscores the importance of cyber security to our critical infrastructures, our economy and our citizens,” Bill Conner, chairman, chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Entrust, said in the statement. “The House Homeland Security Committee and Congressional leadership recognize that without strong cyber security, there is not physical security.”

Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the BSA, noted that a July 2002, poll by his group of technology professionals shows a belief that the U.S. has made little progress in the previous year toward closing the gap between the risk of a major cyberattack and the nation’s ability to respond. Sixty-eight percent of those responding to that poll said they believe that gap hasn’t shrunk since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“It is very encouraging that this newly created panel of lawmakers is dedicated to helping develop the tools we need to close the gap between the threats to our country’s critical networks and our power to defend against them,” Holleyman said in a statement.